After spending the best part of a decade adorned in the bizarrest of costumes as frontman of progressive behemoths Genesis, no-one could have predicted the mutual advantage gained by both parties when Gabriel departed in 1975. Master-drummer Phil Collins took Genesis to ridiculous heights as the singer's replacement while Gabriel went on to become one of the UK's most cherished solo performers and font of global musical exploration to boot.
After the costumes were retired to the wardrobe, Gabriel's early solo material drew on influences far and wide - folk, jazz and electronics crept into his familiar tracks such as "Solsbury Hill", "Games Without Frontiers", "Here Comes the Flood" and the harrowing epic "Biko", one of his earliest social-political tracks that borrowed from African roots. His interest in world-music increased during the '80s when he founded the WOMAD Festival at the beginning of the decade and the respected Real World Records imprint at the end of it - releases and performances by Remmy Ongala, Portico Quartet, Little Axe, Afro Celt Sound System and Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan have inspired many.
In-between his successful attempts to bridge the gap between Western pop and global cultures, Peter Gabriel pieced together perhaps his most revered and mainstream work. "So" appeared midway through 1986 and became his second number 1 album after 1980's 'Melt' (or "Peter Gabriel 3"), not surprising given the breadth of classics included in its grooves.
Produced by ace Canadian producer and Eno/ U2 ally Daniel Lanois, "So" is chock full of memorable hits such as "Sledgehammer" (promoted perfectly with Aardman's colourful animated video), "Big Time", the less-successful but most fabulous "Red Rain" and the timeless sweet ballad "Don't Give Up" with Kate Bush. As well as the reclusive Bush, the guest musicians assembled for the recording sessions read like a Who's Who of highbrow rock and pop - Stewart Copeland, PP Arnold, Youssou N'Dour, Nile Rodgers, Bill Laswell, Jim Kerr and Laurie Anderson were useful friends to have in those days (probably still are).
Although very much a part of the '80s, the So's pull is just as dynamic over 25 years later - it's just been given a reissue and has just been singled-out for a new brace of concerts. Peter Gabriel will therefore follow-up his orchestral "New Blood" concerts with a 2013 UK tour that will feature "So" in its entirety.
First stop for the Back To Front tour is London's O2 Arena on 21st and 22nd October, followed by Glasgow on the 24th and Manchester on the 25th. We will have tickets on sale from Friday 23rd November at 9am - demand will be huge.